On Thursday night MIT held its first Women in Innovation and Entrepreneurship networking reception in the sparse and modern Gagosian-like gallery space of the MIT Media Lab.
The event was organized and hosted by two of MIT’s most prominent women in tech, Erika Ebbel Angle, founder and chairman of Science for Scientists, and Marina Hatsopoulos, founder and former chief executive of Z Corporation. These leading women entrepreneurs, along with keynote speaker Cynthia Breazeal, did not mince words as they took the podium. They were direct about their intention to improve the opportunities for women in tech. And they provided perspectives on running the million dollar companies they founded at MIT over the past few years. Read MoreRobotics startup Jibo raises $25 million, brings on Nuance exec as CEO
Steve Chambers says he first heard about the "social robotics" startup Jibo in late 2013, when two friends mentioned the startup to him within two hours on the same day. At the time, Chambers was running worldwide sales, marketing, and business development for Nuance, the publicly held speech recognition company in Burlington. Chambers says he couldn't leave that post immediately, but he joined Jibo's board last September as executive chairman, and helped founder Cynthia Breazeal raise $25 million in new funding.
Today, the Weston company is announcing that Chambers, a veteran of both the speech recognition and videoconferencing industries, is joining Jibo as its new CEO.
Read MoreA tale of two crowdfunding ventures
In the middle of July, two local entrepreneurs launched “crowdfunding” campaigns two days apart. They were seeking enough preorders from customers to help them start making new products. One was a sleek aluminum iPad stand called the SlingAmp, priced at about $35. The other was Jibo, a $600 robot that will be able to do things like coordinate family schedules and read bedtime stories. Read MoreStart Me UpBoston’s biggest tech crowdfunders of 2014
Roomba hunts dust bunnies. Autom helps you shed pounds.
But Jibo wants to be the first multi-purpose robot for your home — a countertop assistant that can snap family photos, remind you of the day's schedule, relay messages, entertain children with interactive stories, and facilitate videoconferences. The $499 product is being unveiled today, but won't be available until late in 2015.
Read MoreStill stealthy after all these years...'Social robot' startup Jibo attracts new investors, preps for product launch
I've been following Jibo since last January, when I first told you the "social robot" startup had snagged some initial funding from Charles River Ventures. Now, Jibo founder Cynthia Breazeal has taken a leave from MIT's Media Lab to run the company. Jibo has brought on some additional investors, and begun hiring a handful of employees from companies like iRobot Corp. and Netflix. And a new placeholder website and Facebook page suggest an unveiling of the product is imminent.
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